Business travel: for some it can be a necessary evil and for others a relatively agreeable and cost-effective extension to their working life. The camp that you fall into can be determined to some extent by the credit card you carry, and there’s absolutely no doubt that the American Express Business Explorer Credit Card is designed to make business travel more rewarding, more enjoyable, easier and less expensive.
First purchase bonus points, the potential for a significant number of further bonus points annually, plus ongoing rewards points at a high earning rate, compensate cardholders for their business journeys and make them more affordable.
Complimentary lounge passes offer the opportunity to make travel more relaxing and waiting time more productive.
Built-in business-oriented travel insurance reduces costs even further, saves time otherwise spent in organising separate travel insurance, and gives you peace of mind by ensuring that this vital type of insurance cover is not overlooked.
Finally, supplementary cards with no additional fee make this a true business card that can be issued to employees without adding to the cost burden.
100,000 first-purchase bonus points
Spend a mere $3,000 in the first three months and you will receive a gratifying and instantly useful 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points.
You can transfer your points into any of eight airline frequent flyer programs: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Malaysian Airlines Enrich, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Thai Royal Orchid Plus, Velocity Frequent Flyer and Air New Zealand Airpoints.
Convert your 100,000 points to Velocity points, for example, and you’ll receive 50,000 Velocity points. That’s enough for three Economy return flights between Sydney and Melbourne. Although you’ll have to pay a total of $220 in taxes and surcharges for the six flight segments, it means that the cost of each segment is reduced to only $37.
It’s also enough points for a one-way Economy flight to Los Angeles. Business travel becomes more affordable.
If you’ve held an Amex card directly issued by American Express in the last 18 months you won’t be eligible for this bonus offer. However, holders of bank-issued Amex companion cards are entitled to this points windfall.
Potential for a further 50,000 annual bonus points
Your business may well have annual expenses in excess of $100,000. Instead of paying your suppliers by cheque or bank transfer, use your new credit card instead (with the added benefit of up to 55 interest-free days). You will be rewarded with a further 50,000 bonus points (on top of the ongoing points earned by the spending) in every year that you can meet a $100,000 annual card expenditure target (not too difficult if you have also issued supplementary cards to several employees).
High ongoing points earning rate
Setting aside any consideration of first-purchase or annual bonus points, the regular points earning rate is also thoroughly satisfying, and refreshingly uncomplicated:
There’s no monthly or annual cap or threshold, and points never expire as long as your card account is current and in good standing. This is a very different situation from that applying to many competing rewards cards, which slow down or stop points earning beyond an often low monthly threshold, and whose points may expire if not used within a certain time period.
If you apply for supplementary cards for employees who travel or have other purchasing authority, they can earn points for your business on its everyday expenditure. Add up to 99 employee cards at no extra cost.
Other ways to spend your points
As well as converting your Membership Rewards points to frequent flyer points with eight airlines, you can also direct them into the frequent guest programs of two hotel chains: Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.
Other travel-oriented redemptions include gift cards with Webjet and Helloworld (20,000 points = $100 worth of travel).
And if you run out of travel options, you can always convert your points into gift cards at national retailers and cinema chains, or use them for online shopping at David Jones. All redemptions come with a Points + Pay option, if you don’t have quite enough points. You can even use points to pay your credit card account balance (from 10,000 points = $50 credit, making each point worth 0.5 cents). The 100,000 bonus points are worth $500 if used in this way.
Two complimentary Amex lounge entries annually
Everyone who travels for business will be familiar with the frustration of cooling their heels in uncomfortable surroundings in an airport terminal while they wait for their flight to be called, especially if the flight is delayed. If your travel takes you through Sydney International Airport a couple of times a year, you can now turn that delay into time that is either productive or relaxing at the American Express Lounge.
Complimentary food and beverages, comfortable seating, free WiFi and dedicated areas for working and relaxing will make your trip less gruelling and allow you to make better use of your time. Accompanying children under 18 years of age are admitted free of charge, and you can pay for extra adult guests.
Lounge entries cost $55 for holders of non-qualifying Amex cards, so this benefit is potentially worth $110 per year.
Complimentary business-oriented travel insurance
Most premium credit cards come with complimentary travel insurance, but this Amex card goes one step further by offering additional free insurance that will be of real value to your business. It includes:
Cover in all cases is activated by paying for your business travel with the card, and it includes cover for your accompanying spouse and dependent children under the age of 22, and all supplementary cardholders. It all adds up to a substantial cost saving for your business.
Tools, apps and benefits to make your business life easier
Time is money, and this card will actually save you time and money when you take advantage of the following card features:
Interest rate lower than you would expect
Since this is a credit card (with up to 55 days interest free each statement period) and not a charge card, it effectively offers the opportunity for short-term borrowing for your business if you choose not to pay your account balance in full when it falls due. Although this would not be good business practice if used regularly or for a longer term, the 16.99% p.a. interest rate on purchases makes it a more viable option than a card with an interest rate of 20% p.a. or more.
Annual fee quickly recouped
Although you’ll pay an ongoing annual fee of $395 (with no fee for supplementary cards), this outlay will be quickly recovered every year.
The travel insurance (an unavoidable expense for a business with a principal or employees who travel) is worth in excess of $1,000 annually.
The lounge passes, if used, are valued at $110.
In the first year, the 100,000 bonus points are worth at least $500, even if they are converted into a card account credit (and are potentially worth much more if used for flights or seat upgrades).
Spend $50,000 a year on non-government purchases and earn a further 100,000 points (worth at least $500).
Spend $100,000 a year and earn 250,000 points (200,000 ongoing points + 50,000 bonus points, total value at least $1,250).
Comparable business cards
American Express is the recognised leader when it comes to business credit cards, offering lots of choices, from cards for sole traders to cards for large corporations. The wide range of cards for small to medium businesses starts with the American Express Business Card (low annual fee) and concludes with the American Express Platinum Business Card (huge annual fee), each card accompanied by a level of benefits proportionate to its cost. The American Express Business Explorer Credit Card has a much lower annual fee than the American Express Platinum Business Card, but its points earning rate is only slightly lower.
NAB, Westpac, ANZ, Commonwealth, Suncorp and Citi also have a range of business credit cards.
A card for the business traveller
This is a card that will suit anyone from a sole trader to a reasonably large business with a number of employees. In order to extract maximum benefit from points earning, annual business turnover is likely to be in excess of $200,000, and at least one employee will be making several business flights a year. However, the card is still likely to more than pay for itself if the turnover and travel activity are far lower than this.